By Jeff Joniak-

(CBS) The Bears (3-3) host the Dolphins (2-3) on Sunday at Soldier Field. Here’s what’s on my mind heading into the contest.

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First impression

There was some good insight at the Halas Hall podium Thursday from Jay Cutler and Aaron Kromer on Matt Forte, who also spoke himself. Forte is one of the most valuable weapons in the league.

Cutler on Matt Forte as a receiver…

“He trusts his hands a little bit more. He used to be a body catcher more so, now he’s like a receiver. As many balls that come his way, I think he had to learn how.”

Forte is the NFL’sreceptions leader entering Week 7 with 46 catches.

Kromer on giving Forte a day off:

“We felt it important that he is fresh on game day. We don’t think it hinders him in any way to miss Wednesday. We chose to do it last week. It worked, we’re going to do it again and probably follow up with it the rest of the way.”

Forte has 145 touches this season, an average of about 24 per game. However, that’s fewer than DeMarco Murray’s 159 rushing attempts in Dallas. Forte has run it 99 times.

Forte on getting put back together after games:

“Sometimes bones can shift and joints can shift and you can be out of line. It’s really about being put back together, getting everything aligned so that stuff doesn’t carry over to the next week.”

Forte has experts who perform multiple treatments on him on Tuesdays after a Monday weight-lifting and light running session to get the blood flowing and the soreness out. There is a name for it: professionalism.

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Second thought

If you have the chance, take another look at the tape of Chicago’s defensive performance in Atlanta. Guard Matt Slauson did and found himself drawn to the play of defensive lineman Lamarr Houston. Slauson said he admired the effort, physicality and determination of Houston, who at times occupied two and three blockers, freeing up the rest of the front four to do its damage. After coaches’ review, Houston was credited with four pressures of Matt Ryan, boosting his season total to 12. He is still looking for his first sack as a Bear.

Third degree

No kicker in Bears history has been more accurate than Robbie Gould. At some point Sunday, he could match and surpass Kevin Butler’s team record for career field goals made. Gould needs one to tie, two to break it.

“This one is obviously a big deal to me just because Kevin Butler is one of my mentors,” Gould said. “Breaking his field goal records, you are talking about one of most historic franchises in the National Football League, so to have your name atop of those lists is pretty special. Every conversation I have with him, I always learn something from him.”

Gould said he was told he would likely be a Bear for about three weeks in mid-October 2005. It has turned into a decade of excellence. At Soldier Field, he’s made 84.6 percent of his field goals, often in less-than-ideal conditions, on a less-than-ideal surface. Gould will eventually pass Butler’s points record this season as well. Those records have held up for 19 years, but Gould’s 145th game is Sunday, while Butler needed 171 career games to set those records.

We’ll have more with Gould in Sunday’s audio version of Joniak’s Journal at 10:10 a.m. in WBBM’s Countdown to Kickoff pregame show.


For the first time in a month, we could see Shea McClellin back on the field Sunday at linebacker. His fractured right hand is healed. He feels he’s ready to “get back after it” and feels his conditioning is good. But what about his grip strength to make tackles while wearing a removable cast for protection?

“I should be fine,” McClellin said. “You never really know until you get out there and have the chance to tackle, but I should be good.”

McClellin fractured his hand at practice on Sept. 17. A few days earlier in the Week 2 win over the 49ers, McClellin had seven tackles and a sack. Coaches feel strongly that he was starting to come on and adapting to his role at strong-side linebacker and situational pass rusher.

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Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.